Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Liquid Water on Mars

Interesting discoveries, which will lead to interesting new inventions.  It's amazing how inspiring a dark streak on Mars could be:  The possibility of alien life, new robots which have greater precision and accuracy... humans visiting our red neighbour... and from there?
Maybe some dark streaks have kickstarted the possibility of our interstellar civilisation! :)


Thursday, 24 September 2015

Renewable Energy

I can hear the wind turbines thumping.  Thrum.  Thrum.  Thrum.  Day and night they turn.  Sometimes I imagine what they look like, picturing them just on the other side of my wall; the blades sweeping past just centimetres from my ear.  Sometimes I think they’re far away; barely seen ghosts, hazy through the clouds which cling to a distant hilltop.
The thumping rhythm has driven more than one person mad.  I hear them screaming for the turbines to stop; pleading to be taken away.  But not me; for me they are the only thing keeping me sane.
My world is rust-streaked concrete, congealed cold porridge and a single buzzing light which flickers but refuses to ever go out.  The wind turbines are the only thing that I know exists beyond these walls.  If ever they stopped, would I even believe that there is an outside?

I’ll see them one day.  I’ll count the pillars, feel the air brushing past my skin.  But for now all I can do is close my eyes and listen to them turn.

Friday, 18 September 2015

The solar system

"Space is big.  Really big.  You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is.  I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's  just peanuts to space." - Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

This is a beautiful video showing just how big our solar system is.  Well worth a watch.


Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The Frozen Forest

Here's a short fantasy story I wrote for a competition.  I did it in a fairytale style.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015


The hall is astoundingly huge - a polyhedron of impossible dimensions formed of some sort of semi-transparent crystal.  Through the glass-like surfaces stars and galaxies wheel in a spectrum of incandescence... and every surface is covered in doors.  Wooden doors and metal doors, opaque glass doors and even some stone doors.  There is no clue to where they might lead, no marking or symbol upon them.  There is no guide in the hall, nothing but vast empty space between them.  It is not until you find the key that you notice the key-holes...
But which door to use the key on?
You walk to a stone door and peer through.  Beyond is a planet of orange and red swirling clouds, its moons slowly spinning around one another.  You look through the next door, black glass, and see a rocky, lifeless world, cratered and grey.  You walk a few paces before seeing what lies behind a wooden door - this one is a bright mass of blue and green with rings encircling its waist.
Each door you look through shows you a new world.  Some you know are not places you should go - whether they are meant for others or no one you can't tell, but you are certain they are not meant for you.  With others the only thing that stops you from turning the key in the lock and stepping through there and then is the niggling feeling that another door might hold a better world - might be a better match.
You walk and walk and look and look, telling yourself that when you see your world, the path that was meant for you, you'll know, and then, and only then will you use the key.
But you're never certain.  There are too many doors to see them all - and you know that by the time you have walked the length of the hall you would have forgotten what you had seen at the start anyway. You stop and look back and forth, trying to decide on how many more doors you should look through until you choose.
You know that whichever you do choose, you will always wonder what lay beyond a different door.
But still, better to see a world in all its glory and life and magnificence than to always stand on the edge...
Time to make the choice.  

Monday, 30 March 2015


Bob was a wizard.  He lived in a tower which you could only reach by crossing the swampy forest.  It made getting the groceries a little inconvenient, but he never lacked for leeches or toads for his spells.  Now and then he would get visitors - Knights asking for magic swords, Peasants asking for potions, and sometimes even Kings asking for counsel.  Most of the time what he gave them was common sense advice instead, but as long as he made some sparks puff from the end of his staff and his voice boom, they would go away happy.  Some of them even took the advice, too.
One day he was sitting in his tower when there was a thump thump thump at the door.  He glanced out of the window to see who his guest was (it always impressed if he could greet them by name) but he could only see a little girl.
A peasant come for a potion, no doubt, he thought.  He scanned his shelf of ready made concoctions - mostly healing potions - and satisfied he probably had what she wanted, swept on his starry robe, grabbed his staff and made his way down the spirally stairs.
He swung the door open dramatically and in his deep grand voice said:
"Welcome little girl!  I am Robert the Remarkable!  Keeper of the tower and magical secrets!  For what do you seek me out today?"
The girl stared up at him, her eyes as big a saucers, a wooden walking stick clutched to her chest.  For a moment Bob thought that maybe he'd overdone his greeting and frightened her into silence - she was very small.  But no, suddenly her face lit up into the biggest grin he had ever seen.
"Wow that was great!" she bounced up and down, then her face went serious again and she cleared her throat.  When next she spoke, she was attempting to put on a deep booming voice.  "My name is Emily the Extraordinary!  I have come to be your apprentice!"
"You what?" Bob said, forgetting to make his voice deep or booming.
"I brought my own staff and everything!"  She held up the walking stick proudly.
"Oh.  Um, well aren't you a little young to be a wizard's apprentice?" he asked gently.
"No.  My Mum said I could."
"Where's your Mum now?"  He looked around, expecting to see a woman on the path from the forest - perhaps the girl had ran ahead.
"At home," she replied.
"You walked through the swampy forest yourself?  Don't you know that's dangerous?!" Bob was amazed that she hadn't gotten eaten by a crocodile - or worse.
"It's ok, I already know a spell."  She grinned proudly.  "I used it if I met anyone, to protect myself, just like Mum said."
"Really?"  Bob was impressed, despite knowing he ought to take her straight back home.  "Which spell?"
He wasn't ready for it, else maybe he could have stopped her.  He was expecting her to create some kind of shield, or a smoke screen or something.
"FROGGUS CROAKUS!" the girl yelled, pointing her walking stick at him.
"Noo-ibbit!" Bob shouted.  She turned me into a frog!  "Ribbit!  Turn me back!"
"Oh," Emily looked down at him.  "I don't know that one."
As soon as she'd finished speaking a dozen frogs hopped out of the forest, along the path to the tower, to his front door.
"There she is!" one of them croaked.  "Turn us back!  Or we'll tell the wizard that lives here what you've done!"
Well, thought Bob, this is going to be embarrassing when they realise who I am.